Margie Rice, who has served virtually non-stop for decades as an elected member of the Westminster City Council and the Midway City Sanitary District, and before that as a school board member, has been collecting a pension for elected service — while simultaneously being paid $40,465 in salary and benefits as an active member of those two elective bodies.
Rice supports a 1-cent sales tax increase on Westminster residents, citing her reluctance to enact further cuts in the city budget. This week, she pulled papers to run challenge Mayor Tri Ta for re-election.
Origins Of The Triple-Dip
In 2012, Rice decided not to seek re-election after serving continuously as either Westminster mayor or councilmember since 1994, and left office at the end of November.
Almost immediately afterward, Rice made it known she wanted to be appointed to the council vacancy created by Councilman Tri Ta’s election as mayor. On December 12, the council voted 4-0 to appoint Rice.
The next day, December 13, Rice became a “retired annuitant” and started collecting a $9,360.84 annual pension from CalPERS. By 2015, according to the website TransparentCalifornia.com (which obtains its data from the State of California), Rice’s pension had increased to $9,600.48 due to cost-of-living increases.
According to CalPERS, her pension is based on 35 years of combined service as member of the Westminster City Council and the Westminster School District Board of Trustees – although TransparentCalifornia.com credits her retirement to being a director of the Midway City Sanitary District. CalPers spokesperson Amy Morgan told OC Daily via e-mail:
Margie L. Rice retired on 12/13/2012. She receives $804.33 gross per month.
Her 35 years are based on employment with the City of Westminster (12/13/94-12/13/2012) and with Orange County Schools (4/1/77-12/9/94).
She is also an active member of the City of Westminster (start date 12/13/12) and the Midway City Sanitary Dist. (start date 12/7/1990) as you noted.
At the same time she is collecting a pension for being a retired Westminster City Council member, Rice is collecting $25,463 in total compensation as a current Westminster councilmember:
- $10,599 in regular council pay
- $6,084 in “other pay”
- $8,780 in benefits
In addition to her pension and council compensation, Rice is also collecting $15,002 in total compensation as a member of the Midway City Sanitary District Board of Directors, on which she has served for 26 years:
- $14,107 in regular pay
- $100 in other pay
- $795 in benefits
OC Daily has contacted CalPERS to verify whether it is legal for Rice to collect a retirement pension for serving in elected offices in which she is still actively serving. OC Daily also reached out to Rice via e-mail with several questions about her retirement pension, including the public perception of asking Westminster residents to impose a higher sales tax themselves to avoid additional budget cuts while she collects a salary and benefits package for her current council service and a pension for past council service.